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1920s Over-the-Rhine gas station will get new life as beer garden and bar

Queen City Radio plans to open by July
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Posted at 2:30 PM, Mar 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 17:30:24-04

CINCINNATI — Louisa Reckman promises great sunset views and a welcoming atmosphere when beer garden and bar Queen City Radio opens this summer in Over-the-Rhine.

“We want to be an everyman bar,” said the bar’s owner. “You can have a macro beer or craft beer and still feel comfortable. Just something for everyone.”

This week Reckman, husband Chris and brother Gabriel Deutsch began rehabilitating chipped glazed tile on the art deco exterior of the former Queen City Radio automobile service shop, which sits on the corner of West 12th Street and Central Parkway.

Once work is complete, the 1920s-era building will sport an interior mezzanine, flat-screen televisions, 14 craft and macro beers on tap, a full cocktail bar and an outdoor beer garden. The owners said they hope to open the first week in July if everything goes according to schedule. There also will be room for food trucks on site. 

“It’s going to be a little industrial,” Louisa Reckman said of the bar. “Lots of plants, greenery. The beer garden will face Central.” 

The place also will be dog friendly and easily accessible by both Central Parkway’s dedicated bike lanes and the Cincinnati streetcar once it starts operating, she said.

The Reckmans and Deutsch bought the station, which had sat empty for years, last April. It took the trio almost a year to remove old underground gas tanks, pass environmental soil inspections and receive both historical and building permits.

The one upside to the wait was that the owners benefited from the doubling of allowed liquor permits in Over-the-Rhine, a result of the Cincinnati City Council creating the OTR East and West Community Entertainment Districts to cover the neighborhood earlier this year. A CED allows for a higher concentration of liquor permits inside its borders than what is normally allowed. OTR's previous single district reached its limit of 15 permits in the neighborhood in early 2015.

"I think we were the first ones to apply for that, or one of the first ones," Louisa Reckman said. The owners are still going through the state's liquor permit process.

Chris Reckman’s contracting firm Urban Expansion is handling the ongoing rehab work. The firm has overseen multiple preservation projects in Over-the-Rhine, including three buildings on 14th Street and Goodfellas pizzeria on Main Street.

Louisa Reckman and her brother bring more than a decade of restaurant and bar experience to the project.

“He worked at Palm Court in the Hilton and opened a couple restaurants,” Louisa Reckman said of Deutsch. “He’s also the one who brought me into the restaurant business about 10 years ago.”

She said she has previously worked as general manager at La Poste (now Harvest Bistro) in Clifton, for Jeff Ruby at the Precinct and at the Marriott in Mason. The siblings said they are both excited to finally own their own bar and restaurant and have the freedom to make their vision a reality.

“It’s a really cool-looking building,” Louisa Reckman said. “We always loved it.”